No mixed messages here!
by Emily Cieslak Sep 15, 2020
As much as we value our cloth face masks in the fight against the spread of coronavirus, we’ll admit they aren’t perfect. Who else has felt sweat pool underneath the thin layer of fabric while your words came out as a jumbled mess? For individuals that are deaf or hard of hearing, opaque styles make it especially difficult to communicate, hiding lips and facial expressions.
Thankfully, more brands are creating partially or fully transparent options. By still covering the nose and mouth, these designs create a physical barrier from particles while allowing people to read lips and facial expressions. For anyone that is an educator or works in an environment where they are constantly communicating with others, clear masks are a game changer. And if you're back in the dating scene, the need for them has never been more on-point.
When properly constructed, experts say these translucent designs are just as effective as their cloth counterparts, if not more since the synthetic materials (i.e. plastic, vinyl) they're manufactured from provide a strong barrier to droplets. Plus, you can easily disinfect one with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and a soft cloth if you're in need of a mask ASAP.
For the best protection, ensure the plastic is tightly sewn to any fabric and that the mask covers all your bases—nose, mouth and a snug fit under the chin. Plenty of clear masks are made with anti-fog technology; if yours isn’t, you can coat it with anti-fog treatment or wash the inside of the plastic with detergent and water, and let it air dry or wipe with a cloth to prevent fogging.
These eight face masks are clear winners for allowing your smile to reclaim the spotlight.
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1. ClearMask, $67 for a box of 24
After a negative surgery experience in 2017, Allysa Dittmar, ClearMask’s deaf co-founder, set out to design a mask that would make surgical interactions better for all individuals. Now the clear design is available for non-medical purposes. The plastic pane provides full exposure to your lower face, with a cushion for your nose and chin. The single use masks are sold in sets of 24, and you can choose either the classic tie-on or EZ-Adjuster based on what’s more comfortable for you.
2. Sachika, from $16.20 (usually $18+)
Leave it to Los Angeles to create a mask that is both see-through and stylish. Sachika fuses fashion and function with transparent designs made from iridescent, sparkly, and neon plastic. Or if you rather match the cloth portion to your clothing, they offer clear designs in bold colors and prints. Not to mention the angular shape creates a futuristic, sculpted facial look. Just be sure to purchase a valve-free option to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
3. Smile Mask, from $30
The Smile Mask from Rafi Nova is exactly what its name suggests: a soft cotton mask with a clear plastic pane in the middle to reveal your smile from its slumber. Designed by a speech language pathologist, these colorful masks accommodate hearing aids or cochlear implants. Be sure to check out their limited edition collaboration with Millicent Simmonds. The A Quiet Place actress painted the floral print herself, and 100 percent of the mask’s profits benefit Deaf Women of Color and Texas Hands and Voices.
4. SomoFinds Floral Mask, $13.99
These cotton masks give you the best of both worlds—a delicate floral print and a transparent pane for clear communication. The reusable mask uses PET anti-fog material and adjustable ear loops. Best of all, you can nab it with free shipping on Etsy.
5. SomoFinds Transparent 3D Mask, $16.99
If you want a transparent mask with no fuss or frills, SomoFinds also offers this minimalistic option. Available in black or white trim, this simplistic design pairs with any outfit and leaves most of your face on display. Customers rave that the adjustable ear loops make the mask super comfortable to wear as well.
6. MaMo Creations Lip Reading Cotton Face Mask, $24.95
This mask is a favorite on Amazon among teachers who need to power through the workday. Thanks to its adjustable buckles on the ear straps and anti-fog technology, it doesn’t ride down or fog up. Available in solid colors or prints, this style is a great addition to your mask collection, whether you are leading a group of students or trying to get the barista to understand your order.
7. Flat Fold Transparent Mask, $14.82
If you like the look of the traditional flat folded disposable face mask, consider this one made from plastic and designed in France. Its waterproof model is easy to clean and disinfect, so you don’t have to dispose of it after only one use.
8. Leaf, from $49
If you truly want to invest in a mask of the future, consider Leaf. Beyond its futuristic transparent design of the N99+ mask, various models include filtering, UV sanitation and a micro fan that creates active ventilation. It also comes in different colors and features anti-fog and antimicrobial coatings for protection and ease of use. Once you buy your initial mask, monthly filtration cartridges are recommended. Looking like it’s straight from a space movie, this mask allows you to fully embrace the sci-fi vibes 2020 has been all about.